To the delight of fans, the New York Mets front office spent the early part of the offseason adding some key offensive pieces in Starling Marte, Eduardo Escobar, and Mark Canha. With the lockout putting a stop to any substantive baseball news, all we can do is speculate about the 2022 season and how the Mets will definitely, certainly win the World Series. With a number of new pieces to move around, let us take a deep dive on how Buck Showalter and company will set up the lineup on opening day and beyond.
One thing is for sure, the Mets will not have a go-to everyday lineup. The bench presence of guys like J.D. Davis and Dom Smith will allow Showalter to mix and match based on opposing pitchers and defensive alignments, as well as to provide rest days to older players like Robinson Cano and Canha. There is also the issue of designated hitter, which is more likely than not to be brought to the National League in 2022. For the sake of simplicity, we will consider the Mets ideal lineup with the DH against a right-handed pitcher.
1. Brandon Nimmo, RF
The Mets have two elite leadoff options in Nimmo and Marte. Marte brings solid on-base ability and exceptional base stealing. However, Nimmo’s walk rate comes in at the 96th percentile, and his skill set makes him the ideal hitter to start the game. In addition, Marte’s elite defense and Canha’s questionable ability mean Nimmo should start the year in right field.
2. Starling Marte, CF
Marte’s high batting average and speed will work well in this spot. In addition, he has more power than Nimmo which will play better with men on base ahead of him. With his base-stealing ability, he will benefit from hitting just ahead of Lindor, who actually saw slightly more pitches per plate appearance than Nimmo in 2021. Marte’s pedigree should give him the opening day center field job, though Nimmo will certainly also see time there.
3. Francisco Lindor, SS
This is probably the least comfortable place in the lineup. Lindor, at his best, is certainly in the top four hitters in this lineup. However, a repeat of his 2021 season could see him sliding down the batting order. For now, it seems like a fair assumption that he can bounce back to his previous production and so he should begin the year in the three-hole.
4. Pete Alonso, 1B
This one is obvious. Alonso is a born cleanup hitter and should be locked into this spot for years to come. Although fans will note that subpar production from Lindor could lead to Alonso batting third, in order to get him more at-bats.
5. Robinson Cano, DH
To be honest, this feels wrong but also like the most likely outcome. At least to begin the year, Cano’s career numbers and massive paycheck should net him an advantage over Smith or Davis. He still has one of the finest lefty swings in the game, and the type of power that can make a difference behind the Mets four best hitters. However, any sort of slow start likely leads to the fifth batting order spot becoming the property of Escobar or McNeil. In a perfect world though, this would be where a Kris Bryant or Kyle Schwarber slots in if the Mets make another offensive addition.
6. Mark Canha, LF
Historically, the sixth spot has served as a sort of second leadoff hitter. Canha certainly fits that mold with his on-base prowess. He also has the potential to move up to the two spot in the event of injury to Nimmo or Marte.
7. Eduardo Escobar, 3B
Escobar has recently put up offensive numbers worthy of a much higher lineup position, being one of the most important hitters for the Brewers down the stretch. The Mets are lucky enough to be able to slot him in seventh, as he will help to lengthen the lineup and prevent opposing pitchers from gaining any momentum.
8. James McCann, C
Here is the main weak spot in the order. McCann’s 2020 is looking more and more like a fluke every day, but the Mets will likely rely on their $40 million dollar man to bridge the gap to the arrival of top prospect Francisco Alvarez. It is worth noting that a truly poor offensive performance could open the door for Tomas Nido, who is elite defensively and has shown flashes with the bat. Either way, I wouldn’t be surprised to see McCann on the bench if the Mets make the playoffs.
9. Jeff McNeil, 2B
Man, remember when McNeil was legitimately one of the best hitters in the league in 2019? Should he return to that form, I wouldn’t hesitate to slot him in after Marte and bump Lindor down in the lineup. For now, though, he can bat ninth and serve as another lead-off type hitter ahead of the 1-2 punch of Nimmo and Marte.
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